Archive | 924(c)

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Abbott Hole

United States v. Tejada, No. 07-5289-cr (2d Cir. February 9, 2011) (Leval, Raggi, CJJ, Gleeson, CJ)

The defendant here received a 120-month drug sentence and a consecutive 60-month § 924(c) sentence. On appeal, he argued that this was illegal under the court’s decisions in Williams and Whitley. And indeed it was. However, as this decision recognizes, those cases were abrogated by the Supreme Court in Abbot v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 18 (2010).

At issue is an inscrutable phrase in § 924(c): “Except to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided by this subsection or by any other provision of law,” a person convicted of violating § 924(c) must receive a specified mandatory minimum sentence and that sentence must be consecutive to any other term of imprisonment. Whitley held that this language meant that the § 924(c) sentence did not apply if the defendant received a higher …

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Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Glock-In-Trade

United States v. Gardner, No. 08-4793-cr (2d Cir. March 10, 2010)(Feinberg, Katzmann, CJJ, Castel, DJ)

18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) makes it a crime to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Here, the defendants challenged the applicability of this section in their case, where they purchased firearms using drugs as payment.

The trial evidence showed that the defendants acquired two firearms and paid for them with drugs, specifically an “onion” – one ounce of crack cocaine. They instructed the gun seller to sell the crack and give them $200 – the difference between the value of the drugs and that of the guns.

In affirming, the circuit began with a bit of history. The pre-1998 § 924(c) did not have an “in furtherance” requirement. It made it a crime only to use or carry a firearm “during and in relation to” a drug trafficking offense. Under that …

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Monday, August 17th, 2009

Same S***, Different Day

United States v. Parker, No. 08-4199-cr (2d Cir. August 14, 2009) (McLaughlin, Calabresi, Raggi, CJJ)

Travious Parker received a 180-month sentence after a jury trial. This sentence comprised a 120-month drug mandatory minimum and mandatory sixty-month consecutive sentence on a § 924(c) count. On appeal, he argued that under United States v. Williams, 558 F.3d 166 (2d Cir. 2009) and United States v. Whitley, 529 F.3d 150 (2d Cir. 2008), he was ineligible for the § 924(c) sentence. The circuit affirmed, because conduct underlying the drug count that carried the ten-year mandatory minimum and that underlying the § 924(c) count occurred on different dates.

Parker was charged in a multi-count indictment that covered several different dates. As pertinent here, the § 924(c) count (Count One), charged that Parker used or possessed a gun in connection with a crack sale (Count Two), a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C), that carried …

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Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Off-Whitley

United States v. Williams, No. 07-2436-cr (2d Cir. March 5, 2009) (Pooler, Hall, CJJ, Trager, DJ)

Title 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) provides for consecutive mandatory minimum sentences for the use or possession of a firearm in connection with a drug offense or crime of violence except “to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided by … any other provision of law.” In United States v. Whitley, 529 F.3d 150 (2d Cir.), reh’g denied, 540 F.3d 87 (2d Cir. 2008), the defendant received a fifteen-year mandatory minimum under the Armed Career Criminal Act, and a five-year consecutive 924(c) sentence. The court held that the “except” clause exempted the defendant from the 924(c) sentence, since he was subject to a greater minimum on the ACCA count. Whitley left open whether the “except” clause applied to non-firearms offenses. Here, a different panel, following Whitley, answered that question with a resounding …

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Monday, December 8th, 2008

Run-On Sentence

United States v. Chavez, No. 05-4679-cr (2d Cir. December 8, 2008) (Kearse, Calabresi, Sack, CJJ)

Jaime Chavez was convicted after a jury trial of a drug conspiracy and a § 924(c) offense, and faced a 50-year mandatory minimum: due to a prior conviction there was a 20-year minimum on the drug charge; and, because the gun had a silencer, he faced a 30-year mandatory consecutive sentence for the gun. The guidelines recommended a minimum sentence of 60 years; 30 for the drugs plus 30 for the gun, and the district court sentenced him to 55 years.

Chavez had asked the court to shorten the sentence on the drug charge in light of the long sentence he faced for the gun, but the district court concluded that it could not lawfully do this. Rather, the court independently selected 25 years as the appropriate sentence for the drug conspiracy, then imposed the …

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Friday, May 9th, 2008

Yanni, Get Your Gun

United States v. Desinor, No. 05-4500-cr (2d Cir. May 8, 2008) (Walker, Straub, Hall, CJJ)

This prosecution arose from a murderous rivalry between two drug gangs. One, the “Cream Team” (footnote 1 of the opinion, which explains the derivation of this name, is a must-read), was populated largely by the defendants on trial. The rival gang sold drugs out of a neighboring building, and was run by a dealer named Yanni. The appeal raised two issues of first impression relating to jury instructions in homicide cases. The court affirmed on those issues, but one defendant won a partial resentencing.

The Homicide

The trial evidence revealed that members of the Cream Team shot and killed Yanni’s cousin, and that this shooting was the culmination of a period of escalating acts of violence between the two groups. On the day of the shooting, heavily armed Cream Team members were looking for Yanni …


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